Red Tractor revises its standards every three years with the goal of matching production standards with what consumers expect from their food. On 1st October last year, Red Tractor implemented Version 4 of the Dairy standards.
According to Red Tractor Technical Manager Jess Sloss, translating what shoppers want into practical, deliverable standards on a farm is a challenge, but one that Red Tractor rises to by using a cross-section of expert opinion.
“Our Technical Advisory Committee, which is made up of farmers, vets, retailers and other food and farming experts come together regularly to identify key themes and translate them into meaningful farm standards,” she said.
The latest research carried out by the UK’s leading farm assurance scheme didn’t yield any surprising results.
“Antibiotic use, animal welfare and food safety repeatedly ranks at the top of our market research exercises. Provenance and environmental protection are also right up there,” said Ms Sloss.
A significant change to the standards for 2017 related to rodenticide use.
The changes have moved the scheme in line with the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use’s best practice guidelines.
As well as ensuring good stewardship, this has a direct benefit for assured farms because it means that they can continue to buy professional rodenticides without the cost and time burden of additional stewardship training.
Permanent baiting must not be routinely undertaken and baits can only be sited where evidence shows they are being continuously effective. A site survey and risk assessment of watercourses and populations of non-target species should also be carried out and recorded before treatment. Templates for these additional records can be found on the Red Tractor website.
One of the main changes that Red Tractor wants to highlight to members is documented medicine records.
Medicine records must provide an annual collation of total antibiotic used for the unit either by a vet from prescription data or completed by a farmer from medicine records.
An annual review of antibiotics used must be undertaken by the vet. All livestock leaving the farm must be accompanied by a declaration confirming what medicine withdrawal periods are applicable.
In 2015, the national maximum level for quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) in milk were reduced to 0.1mg/kg, so Red Tractor rules now state that cleaning chemicals and udder and hoofcare products must not contain QACs, to help ensure that this requirement is met.
A documented colostrum policy should ensure that young stock are receiving adequate colostrum. This needs to be written in the health plan and it is recommended that the quality of colostrum is tested too.
Silage must be stored in a manner that minimises the risk of contamination and pollution with particular attention to field clamps where they are permitted.
Red Tractor has also produced some top tips documents to help its members avoid non-conformances when it comes to audits.
Farmers can view the standards on this link: Redtractor tools and library